Silke Henkel-Wallace was born in northern Germany where she grew up amid the countryside and wooded forests. Though always fascinated with painting, she first pursued a career in the graphic arts in Germany and later in Boston, where she graduated from Emerson College.In 1997 she the left United States for France.
Living in central Paris, she was within walking distance of the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière where she began painting regularly. It was the 19th century, the romantics like Delacroix that she loved most but also learned from the academic painters of the same time.
Upon returning to California for good, she continued her study of 19th century techniques, working primarily with Jim Smyth. Her work with Jim Smyth has concentrated intensively in the figurative and academic traditions. After years of seeing the world not in terms of subject but in terms of paint, she now feels she is busy rebelling against those traditions. Of her last solo show she commented, “I am not concerned with skin-deep accuracy but with the search. I am interested in how the canvas feels, giving rhythm and movement to the surface, presence to the material”.
Henkel-Wallace debuted in 2001 with her first solo show and has exhibited regularly. Besides being represented, she also has successfully completed many commissions and her work is owned by collectors in the U.S. and in Europe.
The unity that the human spirit gives to vision can only be found in the studio. It is there that our impressions, previously scattered, are co-ordinated and enhance each others’ value to give the true poem.
Expression and Meaning
In our lives we all create meaning by focusing on and emphasizing specific elements at the expense of others. My objective is to create a specific reality that shows the viewer something that otherwise he or she would not have encountered, yet at the same time express a common experience, a human experience.
The large scale landscapes show swirling paint in which one might detect a horizon line or one might believe to recognize trees in the distance. To me, these elements are the vehicle to express, with paint and movement, the feelings like solitude or sadness. These paintings not only express the beauty in life but also the terrifying.
The large landscapes are painted in my studio. The work is informed by working from life, studying the landscape, painting and drawing the human figure. I prefer to work in muted colors and tend to prefer a warmer palette. To move paint around I at times use big brushes, palette knives, rags and even my bare hands.